New Year\’s Gift


She stood at the window, waiting. The same way she had been waiting for five years hoping to see something or someone come up the driveway.

Everyone had told her she was foolish. She needed to get on with her life and move on. They had done the memorial service two years ago. Both human and material resources had been expended in the search for  him, whether dead or alive since he had gone MIA(missing in action) five years earlier. They had given up the search two years ago.

Ostensibly, he was kidnapped by guerrillas and they had killed him. If he was alive, they would have heard something. Still, she stood at the window waiting for what…she didn’t know.

Their short life together had been idyllic. She hadn’t wanted to marry a soldier but it had been pure, true love. They both recognized it for what it was and hadn’t wanted to waste any time. After she completed her nurse’s training, they were married. He had this carefree, boyish atiitude to life while she was a worrier. They had many adventures together, both happy and some not so happy ones and one of them included her first miscarriage. But he assured her that they had plenty of time to make plenty of babies. Two years later, he received his first assignment abroad. And that was when the nightmare began.

She was afraid to watch the news, to turn on the TV. There were tales of carnage, scores of soldiers being captured and tortured, fighter jets being blown down. She worried incessantly and lost weight. A few months after his last assignment, while on a secret mission, he was reported as missing in action. They couldn’t ascertain whether he was dead or alive. She had received the news with a mixture of shock and horror. It couldn’t be. She remembered his last words to her before he went off: “I’ll be home soon, honey.” He had said so confidently as he was walking up the driveway and waving goodbye. She had held on to those words like they were her anchor. And for the first two years she had stood faithfully by the window late at night and in the early hours of the morning, watching for him. He had pulled her nose several times and told her not to be such a pessimist. “Things would get better darling,” he’d say. “The sun will shine again,” he’d add his eyes crinkling. “You gotta keep hope alive,” he’d say on occasion. “Or else you can’t go on living.”

And after the first two years, there was a determination in her to believe the truth in those words.. She never allowed anyone to refer to her as his widow. He was coming back, she knew it. She believed it. She was forever going to keep that hope burning.

Now, five years after his ‘death’, she stood at the window still. In the early hours of the morning of the New Year, she saw an apparition. A shape emerging from the back of the driveway. It was coming towards the window. He looked like a scarecrow, gaunt and emaciated as he was. Her mouth hung open as she ran out of the house to see if it was him and something like the makings of a smile appeared on his face as he rasped out: “Why are you so shocked honey? Didn’t I tell you I’ll be home soon?”

She did not say a word, but enveloped his fragile frame in her arms, silently vowing never to let him go.


P.S: Hope is not always easy to keep burning. But without it, we cannot keep on living. My wish for you this new year is that you enter it filled with hope. The hope that you will achieve those dreams and goals that you have set out to achieve.

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